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ATC Explanation...how does it work?


In Holland you are allowed to have a scanner/airband receiver. This can be very useful when you're go spotting. Because you can exactly hear where the planes are, but if you new to this, it can be sometimes very hard to understand where they are talking about. So I thought it would be nice to write a little tutorial how to understand the ATC and charts. I also added some ATC recordings so you can hear what's said at a certain point. The plane: A plane flies from one point to a another point, between those points he is in the air, but in the air he is not alone. There are loads of other planes also. To guide all these planes to the correct destination, they are monitored by a Air Traffic Controller. This controller has the responsability for a particular part of airpace.If an aircraft is about 80nm out of the field, he will start descending. He will use a special chart to fly a STAR (Standard Terminal ARrival). On this chart he is able to see which point are important and at what level (height) he has to cross it. Some important terms explainded: Intersection: this a fixed point, this point only exists on maps and Flight Management Computers, not in real life.

ILS: This is radio becon to guide a plane to the runway, is has a glideslope.
NDB: Non Directional Beacon, these becons can often be found just before the ILS starts
VOR: Very High Frequency Omnidirectional range/radio. This becon really exists, if you on the landing spot on 19R you can see the SPL VOR.
Flightlevel: The height, where the plane is or is directed to.(FL100 = 10000ft)
QNH: This can vary, it has to do with the weather and atmospheric pressure, the pilots have to change this, when they pass the transition level.
Squawk: This is identifier, a plane identifies hisself by squawking, this signal consist load of information for the controller, such as type of aircraft, heading, height, destination etc.

Departure! But planes come and go! so I will now explain how a departure is flown.
We will discuss the 'Valko' departure of 24. The plane will line up 24, and is cleared for take-off, after he's airborne and he's climbing through 2000ft he will contact departure and give the controller the necessary information. If you listen to this file you can actually hear a British Midlands A321 checking in with Schiphol departure. You can hear the pilot asking for a different cruise altitude that he actually filed. During the climb! During the climb to the cruiselevel, it will switch a few times, when the pilots switches the frequencie, he has to call the controller. The controller then clear him to a certain flightlevel. What he says can be heared here Sometime it's possible that a controller gives a pilot a 'direct to' clearance, for example direct to a intersection or VOR, listen to this file as the Finnair842Q is cleared direct to ANDIK (intersection) this will save flyingtime Arrival! If you click here you will see a chart for Schiphol. You can see the field in the middle (green box). This chart shows the arrival for runway 06 ('kaagbaan'). I will explain all the red boxes step by step. #1 SUGOL this is the name of an intersection, if planes come from the north-west they will fly this arrival SUGOL > #2 SPL (sierra-papa-lima). The plane will change frequencie from 123.700mHz to 121.200mHz, he will then say what he is doing and which information he copied. #3 This is the NDB 'Charlie-Hotel', the use it for the final approach on the runway 06 The plane will be cleared for the ILS by the controller. As you can hear here

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